This module is a resource for lecturers  




The Module has sought to help students identify public sector corruption and understand its destructive impact. It explored the underlying causes of and relevant theories that explain public sector corruption, including principal-agent, collective action, institutional and game theories. The Module also discussed specific corruption risks in the area of public procurement and in state-owned enterprises, and different anti-corruption approaches. In doing all this, the Module aimed to motivate resistance to and action against corruption, but to also provide a solid basis for assessing and choosing adequate responses to public sector corruption and relevant preventive measures.

Admitently, there are many limitations to anti-corruption efforts. However, this does not mean that we should stop fighting corruption. Research on the limitations of anti-corruption efforts (Heywood and Rose, 2015; Kirby, 2018) suggests that a singular focus on fighting corruption can be counterproductive: too much accountability can stall productive behaviour, and lead to employee resentment. It also suggests that reliance on discretion is inevitable, unavoidable and desired in many situations. Therefore, simply aiming to limit or even eliminate corruption in some sense is an unambitious goal. Furthermore, people do not want public officers just to be "not corrupt" or to merely meet the bare minimum standards of public office. Instead, people want public officers to act in genuinely praiseworthy ways, exceeding the minimum standards of office. This requires defining higher ethical goals.

In this light, to achieve the important governance objective of fighting corruption we must situate it within a much broader, more ambitious, more flexible and more politically productive policy goal. This goal has been conceptualized as building "public integrity" (Kirby, 2018), in an attempt to define an ideal of good government that would make public agents genuinely worthy of public trust, confidence and respect. The shift from merely aiming at anti-corruption to achieving levels of integrity is further elaborated in Module 13 of the E4J University Module Series on Anti-Corruption. Public integrity is also discussed at length in Module 13 of the E4J University Module Series on Integrity and Ethics.

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